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Laundromat in Athens: A Tale of Urban Reality

Laundromat Realities

In laundromats clothes are washed for affordable prices. It is an urban space. Quiet, like a church and hospitable. Everyone is welcome here. Immigrants, students, travelers, anyone who doesn’t own a washing machine. People from all walks of life are waiting hypnotized, watching the clothes turning around and around…or their phone…or the rest of the people in the room.

Laundromats are spaces of chance, everything and nothing can happen here, depending on the combination of the customers waiting. But usually nothing happens. Everyone is waiting patiently, absorbed in their own universe. There are many parallel realities in each laundromat. Different worlds coexist during this 40-minute wash.

Some bring their own detergent. Others buy it from the machine that sells it for 50 cents. After the clothes are washed and dried the customer departs. Soon another person will sit in the same chair, watching the same washing machine, lost in their own thoughts.

People sit next to each other without meeting. Like on a bus. Or a train. Or an airplane. For some, the laundromat is a stop on the way to the airport. For others leaving Greece is a bigger struggle, as well as staying.

Washing machines in laundromats wash clothes from all around the world. There are items from Greece, Germany, Afghanistan, and many more countries. Also, many clothes are bought from international companies like Zara and H &M. I guess, in that case, it makes no difference where the chain shop was located.

Laundromats are an important wheel of city life. Customers come and go in a cycle. Who are they? What are they planning to do after their clothes are clean? What are they thinking while they wait? What do they do? What is the last dream they remember? Are they happy? Are they sad?

Anything can happen in a laundromat. But usually nothing happens.

-Mary Bouli

Mary Bouli

Directed by Mary Bouli

Mary Bouli graduated in 2019 from the Department of Communication, Media, and Culture of Panteion University and in 2022 she received her postgraduate degree in “Culture and Documentary Film Production” from the University of the Aegean.

In 2020, she started working in the film industry, at first as a Production Assistant and then as a 2nd Assistant Director and casting director for extras. In her films she is interested in exploring social subjects. Her first feature length documentary “It doesn’t cost anything”, supported by the Greek Film Center and ERT, is currently in production.

Her documentary “Go, Look, listen” was screened at the Chania Film Festival, DocFest Chalkida, the Cyprus Archaeological, Ethnographic and Historical Documentary Film Festival and the Festival Della Comunicazione e del Cinema Archeologico, Licodia Eubea, in Italy. Her short documentary “Blue House” premiered at Chalkida DocFest in 2022 and won the award for best student film. Her graduate short documentary “One time in ’44” was screened in 2023 in Chania Film Festival and the Chalkida DocFest.

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